Known as the Natale di Roma, the annual celebrations are based on the legendary founding of Rome by Romulus in 753 BC.

Legend has it that twins Romulus and Remus were the sons of Rhea Silvia and either Mars, the god of war, or the demi-god hero Hercules.

They are also believed to be descendents of Aeneas, the Trojan hero and protagonist in Virgil’s Aeneid.

According to myth, the twins were rejected at birth since an ancient prophecy stated that they would overthrow the political power of their families.

However, instead of killing them, the servants of their family abandoned them along the banks of Tiber.

A she-wolf found them and nurtured them until a shepherd took the boys and raised them as his sons.

Once adults, they decided to found a city.

However, they argued over who would rule the city and Romulus killed his own brother Remus and became Rome’s first king and founder.

Every year for the last two decades, Romans have come together to celebrate the founding of their city.

The main event each year is the parade, featuring more than 2000 gladiators, senators, vestal virgins and priestesses, which begins and ends at the Circus Maximus.

The heart of the festivities, the Circus Maximus was once used by the Romans as a place for the chariot race games.

On April 21, the stadium hosts the trench-digging ritual, known as the tracciato del solco, that was also called the Pomoerium in the Latin language.

The Pomoerium was the boundary built by Romulus and its main function was to make clear which was Rome city territory and which were the outside areas, belonging to Rome.

Other re-enactments include the agricultural Palilia ceremony.

Dating back to before the founding of Rome, the ceremony was held in honour of the goddess Pales, protector of flocks and herds, and involved vestal virgins distributing straw and the ashes and blood of sacrificed animals before jumping over a bonfire three times.

However this year, due to the coronavirus pandemic, these popular events have been cancelled.

The customary celebrations are organised each year by the Gruppo Storico Romano, a historical dramatic society which brings history to life by re-enacting battles, historic events, and displays of ancient theatre and dance in the city centre.

In light of the pandemic, the group’s members will dress in full costume and celebrate Natale di Roma online, with live performances and archive footage being screened on the Gruppo Storico Romano’s Facebook page.

The “virtual marathon” will run from 10:45 am to 5:00 pm ... be sure to join in on the fun!